3 Ways To Overcome Selfishness in Marriage: Love Does Not Seek Its Own

Are you a selfish person?  I am.  At least 50% (or more) of my thoughts and actions each day revolve around keeping life running without stress.  In my not so humble opinion, life is best when it is easy, doesn’t require change, and creates a sense of comfort.  If I am living life from a selfish mindset, and it turns out my husband is also living life from that mindset, we have a problem.  Today we will see 3 ways to fight selfishness in marriage all tied together in the phrase, “Love does not seek its own.”

For years, we learned how selfishness destroys relationships.  When I was selfish and squashed a need of his, he responded with distance.  When he was selfish and stopped out a need of mind I was bitter and… Click To Tweet

Why Focus on Fighting Selfishness in Marriage?

“I’m taking a 3rd shift job,” Bud announced in the midst of an already trying season of life.  Oh, how I was dreading those words.  We had talked about the possibility for months and I had prayed it wouldn’t come to this.  But here we were on the brink of living on different shifts.  And into this already hard season, God whispered, “Love does not seek its own“.

Does God ever put a verse in your life that just makes no sense?

We have been studying 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and I pray God is using it to change your marriage as He is mine!  This particular day, He hit me right between the eyes with the fact that I am selfish and selfishness in marriage is a real issue we needed to face.  

Who Said Love is Patient and Kind?

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act disrespectfully or unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked to anger, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, enduring all things.  Love never fails.”

For our study, we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  So, we see that God is the ONE who said, “Love is patient and kind,” and that should dictate how we live our daily lives. Today we will answer the question: What does the Bible say about selfishness in marriage? 

Define Love Does Not Seek Its Own

The phrase, “Love does not seek its own,” is so vague that it’s hard to define. My question to God was this, “Love does not seek its own what?”  

After taking a deep into the original language, I saw that the original audience would have understood this phrase in a specific way. According to BlueLetterBible, Love does not seek its own comfort, pleasure, and desire above that of those it claims to love.

Wow.  I can’t say that about myself.  I seek my own comfort most of every single day. Ensuring I have pleasure in my day is a high priority.  Rarely do I think of much other than my own desires.  The number of times I’ve put my comfort, pleasure, and desires over my husband is ridiculous. 

How had it never occurred to me that I had a problem with selfishness in marriage?

I get a lot of emails from wives asking questions like, “What are the signs of a selfish husband?” or, “How do you survive a marriage with a selfish husband?” Can I be gut-level honest with you?  Yes, my husband is also selfish (he’s human), but I am only responsible for myself and my actions.  I can’t tell you how to fix someone else being overly selfish.  What I can tell you is to pray hard over it and make sure God isn’t shining His light on something in you.  

In learning to become a godly wife, God showed me so many areas of sin He wanted to change in me.  Slowly He has also changed my husband, through prayer and grace, but He didn’t start there.  My advice is to pray hard, seek counseling, and work on yourself until God says to do something else. 

Related Post: 14 Characteristics of a Godly Wife that Will Save Your Marriage

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How to Overcome Selfishness in Marriage

How do I stop being selfish in my marriage?  Start thinking about love from a 1 Corinthians 13 perspective. A 1 Corinthians love is a selfless love!  

Of course, I know God calls us to live selfless lives, setting aside pride.  It just had never been so obvious to me that I was a selfish person.  Most of my day is spent securing my own comfort and pleasure.  And right there God brought me face to face with sin.

I care deeply about my own preferences and seek out ways to get them. 

 How about you?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others.” Philippiams 2:3-4

Evaluate Preferences Vs Needs

What is selfishness in marriage?

The truth is, I put my preferences above my husband’s needs.  Often.  Not always, but often.

His needs should outweigh my preferences (not my needs, those are important, but my preferences).  So let’s go back to where this story began.

“I’m taking a 3rd shift job” hubby announced in the midst of an already trying season of life.  Oh, how I was dreading the day I’d hear those words.

You see, I am a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom.  All-day I am with my wonderful kids who I love dearly but need time away from. I keep sane by doing activates at night (without my kids).  Bible studies, ladies groups, yoga classes, all were scheduled in the evenings

Hubby has been trying to find a job that would fit him and support our family.  By taking a 3rd shift job the only time we would have together was in the evening. This was a good job for him.  It would help us get out of debt.  

My first reaction was very selfish, but God cautioned me to pray before I responded.

Related Post: 16 Characteristics of a Godly marriage

A Shift To Selfless Love Requires Forgiveness

Shifting from selfish to selfless was a real battle.  What is selfishness?

We had been in a hard season for a few years in our marriage and it is easy to believe my feelings instead of trusting the Lord in my Christian marriage.

Into this lesson, the enemy whispered so many lies.  Lies I had to fight against.  

  • Our life will be hard forever.
  • If I give up my preference too often, Bud will walk all over me.
  • Someone should be looking out for me in this marriage.
  • I always have to be the mature one who changes first.

It was selfish to believe the feelings rather than looking at the facts.

Do you hear them too?

Those are just the tip of the iceberg of the feelings that come when I stop trying to “seek my own”.

Part of my selfishness was a way to keep me from being hurt again.  There were some things in my life that hurt deeply and I was choosing to hold onto them instead of forgiving them…

It wasn’t until I learned to forgive that I found freedom to be selfless. 

Related Post: 7 Steps to Thrive Through Forgiveness in Marriage

Fight The Flesh to Overcome Selfishness in Marriage

Selfless love is not natural for me- I want to seek my own.  

When I evaluated the situation, I was seeking my own need -adult interaction and time away from my kids.  Truthfully though, I can find that at other times and other ways.That need is being met in a different way now -though I’d prefer it to be in the evening.

Do you know how to be selfless in marriage?

To show love to my husband in a selfless way I needed to set my preferences aside (for a season) to meet his needs.

I preferred my evening classes but My Husband needed space to grow with this job opportunity.

Examples of selfishness in marriage can always be seen when one spouse puts their preferences above the needs of the other.  The trouble was, I couldn’t really see what my husband’s needs were.  Yes, I was a selfish wife in many ways, but I was also a hurting wife.  There had been countless examples of a selfish husband, in Bud.  Because he had been selfish so often I had sort of justified my selfishness.  

Can you relate?

For years, we learned how selfishness destroys relationships.  When I was selfish and squashed a need of his, he responded with distance.  When he was selfish and stopped out a need of mind I was bitter and disrespectful.  Selfishness in marriage gives the enemy a foothold to let in the spirit of division in marriage!  We must fight against it!  And Y’all, some will not go out except through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-22).

Related Post: How to Fast and Pray in A Way that Pleases God

Know The Benefits Of Selfless Love in Marriage

When I give up my preferences to meet his needs amazing things happen.  I began to see the things I desired happening.  Could my preferences have been robbing me of my desires?   

  • Hubby is maturing.&nbsp
    • He just needs the grace to grow up in Christ without me stopping him or nagging him.
    • Someone is looking out for me in this marriage. 
      • God is fighting for me! 
      • Bud is really doing an amazing job here too. 
        • I could see it if only I’d look at what he does right (rather than always focusing on his mistakes). 
          • I feel differently when I spend too much time pointing out his mistakes!
    • We all have seasons of growth. 
      • There will be times Bud has to be the bigger person and give me the grace to grow.  

    Related Post: 38 Encouraging Bible Verses about Love and Marriage

    Fight Your Thought Life

    Do you know how to be sure love does not seek its own; consistently overcoming selfishness in marriage?

    We have to fight the Enemy for truth in our thoughts.  When we believe the lies – instead of seeking out Biblical truth – we all lose. Worst, we hurt others when we endlessly protect our preferences! 

    When you embrace the truth, you can show selfless love!  

    Related Post: 3Reasons to Fight for Freedom in Your Thoughts and 3 Ways to Fight the Enemy for Freedom in Your Thoughts

    Recognize Your Spouses Needs

    What are the signs of selfishness?

    Let me ask you something really personal.  Can you see the difference between your needs and your preferences?

    I’m not asking in a judgemental way, I’m asking if you can.  I couldn’t tell the difference for years because I was so blinded by bitterness and resentment from not forgiving.  If you feel most issues are need issues, that should be a big red flag of selfishness in marriage.    

    Do you know how to stop being selish in marriage?

    The game-changing truth I wish every Christian believed is that God cares about your needs. Not only does God care, but He will take care of your needs! 

    Knowing and believing in your heart that God cares about and will take care of your needs will enable you to take a better look around you.

    Do you know what your spouse’s needs are? I say spouse’s needs because this one applies to husbands and wives.  Often we are so focused on making sure our needs are met that we begin to believe everything is a need.  Spend some time asking God to show you where your preferences are trumping your spouse’s needs and how to change.  You might be surprised to see areas where you could step back and give them the grace to grow!

    Will You Fight Selfishness in Marriage Today?

    Fighting selfishness in marriage is not an overnight fix.  You won’t walk away from reading this and be a pro at 1 Corinthians 13 love, selflessly loving your spouse.  It took a lifetime to develop the habits of self-protection.  As you learn what it means that “Love does not seek its own”, be sure to give yourself grace.  Pick just one of the five areas to focus on at a time until it feels natural. 

    1. Evaluate preferences vs. needs
    2. Forgive
    3. Fight the flesh
    4. Fight your thoughts 
    5. Recognize your spouse’s needs

    While learning this, God revealed to me so many areas where my preferences had started to become fights in our marriage.  In this case, I submitted to God and my husband as he took a 3rd shift job.  

    I didn’t think it was the wisest choice.  I didn’t like it and I was right.  That year was one of the hardest on our family with living on different sleep schedules and not being able to connect as a family.  But God grew us both through the experience.  My husband vowed to never put us in that spot again.  I learned how to reach out to others to help more easily.  We both learned to rely on God to hold our family together.  

    Selfless love is not easy, but it helps everyone grow.  

    Will you start the fight to live out selfless love?  It will be well worth the hard work!

    Do You Need To Go Deeper?

    This is part of the 9-week Marriage Bible Study –Finding Hope & Joy in Marriage.  Through this course, we will explore the 9 Biblical foundations of having a successful marriage God’s way.  

    This class will include:

    • 10 video lessons
      • You can watch live or when you have time
    • 9 weeks of personal study
      • 5 days each week that should take 10-15 minutes
    • A private Facebook Group to discuss the homework and talk through the weekly challenges
    • 45 Days of Prayer prompts

    in Him

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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.

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